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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students debate Proposition 209

Students discussed Proposition 209 and affirmative action policies at a debate last night about the California Civil Rights Initiative, which was passed by California voters on November 5.

The debate drew so large an audience that the venue had to be moved to a larger auditorium in the basement of the Rockefeller Center. Fifteen minutes into the debate, which was sponsored by the Conservative Union at Dartmouth, students lined the walls and crowded at the back or the room to hear the speakers.

The format granted each side of the debate two speakers to argue for four minutes apiece.

David Evans '97 and Unai Montes-Irueste '98, both members of the newly formed Dartmouth Coalition for Equal Access and Opportunity -- a student group sponsoring tomorrow's protest against the new legislation -- argued in favor of repealing Proposition 209.

Two members of CUAD, Jason Kochel '99 and Conor Dugan '00, took a stance against the repeal of Proposition 209.

Evans, wearing a red armband to show solidarity with protesters at the University of California, began the debate by pointing out "CCRI does not define preferential treatment, therefore there is no way of knowing how it will be construed."

Evans went on to cite state-funded educational programs such as a math and science summer program for California high school girls, and said without the immediate repeal of Proposition 209 "some of the gains of the last 30 years will be lost."

Kochel took told the audience that the solutions to the conflict about Proposition 209 could lie right here at the College.

"I suggest you ask Dick's House ... Itchy rash and racial tension have a lot in common,." said Kochel.

He said treating the symptoms of the itchy rash virus is akin to affirmative action policies because they only "treat the symptoms, not the virus."

"The cause is not the symptoms, it is the underlying racial tensions," said Kochel.

Montes-Irueste, also wearing a red armband, argued that Proposition 209 is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment.

He stated Proposition 209 "is the equivalent of removing the Person With Disabilities Act and the basic rights of handicapped persons to gain access to public facilities and institutions."

Dugan, the last speaker to argue, focused on black and Hispanic students at the University of California at Berkeley.

He contended due to the "preferential treatment" which Proposition 209 now forbids, black and Hispanic students are dropping out because they are artificially cast into a high pressure environment.

Dugan argued "students regardless of color will be more likely to fail if placed into situations for which they are not qualified."

Llezlie Green '97 said after the debate in reference to Dugan's comments, "I was offended by the assertion that because there is affirmative action I don't deserve to be here and by the idea that affirmative action places unqualified students in schools."

Green, who is the president of the Afro-American society, added, "If there were not an African-American Society I would not have come" to Dartmouth.

In his final argument, Kochel asked, "Wouldn't you be more offended to be treated as a member of a group than to be treated as an individual?"

"209 is not there to fix all the racial problems," he said. "It doesn't preclude other outreach programs."

The merit of the beneficiaries of affirmative action were brought up often in the discussion.

Freshman Evan Greenbaum said, "The answers fall on merit -- they do not fall on race, sex or sex preference."